On Wednesday, a Twitter account purporting to be Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) tweeted a claim that raised many eyebrows.
The tweet said, “Breaking News. Deputy Minister of Defence Cde Victor Matemadanda has warned the US that if they do not retreat from Iran, Zimbabwe may be forced to intervene.”
The account, @zbcnewsonline_, accompanied the tweet with a picture of Matemadanda. The tweet had racked up more than 1,300 likes, 600 retweets, and close to 1,000 replies by Thursday evening.
Fake and/or parody account
A number of influential figures on Twitter, including journalist Clement Manyathela and popular personality Christo Thurston, retweeted the tweet.
However, a closer look at the account’s handle reveals that it is a fake and/or parody account and not the ZBC News Online‘s official Twitter handle, which is @ZBCNewsonline.
The fake account was started in December 2019. Furthermore, it only has 543 followers and 72 tweets so far.
The official ZBC News Online account has been in existence since 2012 and has more than 275,000 followers. By Thursday evening, it had not tweeted anything about Matemadanda.
Matemadanda denies issuing ultimatum
According to Zimbabwean publication bulawayo24.com, Matemadanda denied on Thursday ever issuing an ultimatum to the United States (US).
In a statement, he said, “Cde Victor Matemadanda dismissed this as fake news. [He] asks the social media handlers to refrain from disseminating manipulative false information about the activities in the Middle East.
“Zimbabwe has not issued any official statement. In any case, such information is issued by the ministry of information or by the President himself.”
Earlier this week, another tweet circulated on social media purporting to emanate from US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
It claimed, “Just spoke to Cyril. South Africans will be conscripted if we need them. Let’s stop Iran!”
Head of Digital Communications in Ramaphosa’s office, Athi Geleba, tweeted that it was “fake news.”